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Frank Gray

Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette
Huge piles of snow, like those at Main Street and Fairfield Avenue, are taking up parking space, blocking drives and generally giving people a bad attitude at the mention of more snow.

Ill-tempered, sick of snow

Prolonged winter spawns brain warp, bleak mood

For nearly the past three months, every day has been the same.

Get up, look out the window and see white everywhere. Look out the back window and see white everywhere on that side.

Get in the car, put it in reverse and as you near the street you look carefully to make sure no one is approaching and then launch a Cossack-like charge to power through the piles of snow plowed into the driveway entrance and then cut the wheel sharply and hope to end up in the tracks left by someone who passed by an hour or two before.

You learn not to stop at stop signs in residential areas or you’ll be stuck until spring.

The subzero temperatures have turned the piles of snow into stonelike piles of snow and your car scrapes against them, but you don’t care what it does to your car as long as you keep moving. The scratches are the price of mobility.

And in the evening you run another Cossack charge up the drive, hoping to conquer the hill, and when you go to bed at night you wonder how much more snow will fall before you get up, and when you rise you nervously look out the window to see how much more has fallen, and you worry about whether you’ll be able to successfully make the same Cossack charge in reverse one more time.

This winter has been one of those once-in-a-generation winters, constant snow, constant cold, the kind that comes along every 30 or 35 years.

In time it starts to play with your mind. You curtail your life. You don’t walk the dog. You don’t think about anything but winter. That’s all there is out there, winter. There’s nothing else to see, and little else to feel but its bitter temperatures.

You become like a character out of “Giants in the Earth,” a book about the Norwegians who settled in the Dakota Territory in the 1800s, and how they would go mad over the winter with nothing to see but white and nothing to feel but cold.

And then I got up Monday morning and it was 2 below and we’d set another record, the most snowfall on a March 2, and it was supposed to dip below zero again that night.

Opening day is four weeks away and there are mountains of snow clogging parking lots all over the city, clogging the storm drains, clogging intersections and temperatures are still dipping below zero. In four weeks guys are supposed to be out in nice white uniforms with short sleeves playing baseball while people sit in the stands and eat hot dogs and drink cold beers?

You reach the stage where you become convinced that it’s not going to happen.

It will warm up someday. There will be green. People will come out of their holes and find life again.

Once spring does come, whether it’s April or May, after the water starts flowing again, I suspect it will be a much happier, more friendly spring than normal.

Frank Gray reflects on his and others’ experiences in columns published Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. He can be reached by phone at 461-8376, by fax at 461-8893, or by email at You can also follow him on Twitter @FrankGrayJG.